Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to spend the rest of his life in jail for genocide and war crimes, UN tribunal rules, increasing his original sentence of 40 years.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (R) appears before the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (R) appears before the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals ("Mechanism") ruling on a appeal of his 40 year sentence for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands, March 20, 2019. (Reuters)

United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment.

Karadzic showed almost no reaction as presiding judge Vagn Joensen of Denmark read out a damning judgment that means the 73-year-old former Bosnian strongman will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Joensen said the trial chamber was wrong to impose just a 40-year sentence given what he called the "sheer scale and systematic cruelty" of his crimes.

Applause broke out in the public gallery as Joensen passed the new sentence.

Separately, the judges rejected a prosecution appeal against Karadzic's acquittal on a second count of genocide in the same war.

TRT World's Francis Collings reports from the Hague. 

Bosnians watch ruling

Dozens of survivors and relatives of the victims from Bosnia's 1992-95 war gathered to watch the broadcast of the final ruling.

A screen was set up in the memorial centre in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995, in what international courts say was genocide.

Karadzic had appealed his 2016 conviction on genocide charges and a 40-year prison sentence.

TRT World's Francis Collings sheds light on the role of Radovan Karadzic in the Balkans war.

Survivors and Bosnian citizens also gathered in the capital, Sarajevo, to watch the delayed broadcast from the Netherlands.

Karadzic, 73, was convicted in 2016 for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. 

He was also found guilty of leading a campaign of ethnic cleansing that drove Croats and Muslims out of Serb-claimed areas of Bosnia.

Order can't be challenged 

The ruling, which is final and cannot be challenged on appeal, will have huge resonance in the former Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia, where ethnic communities remain divided and Karadzic is still seen as a hero by many Bosnian Serbs.

In hiding for nearly a decade, Karadzic was arrested and handed over to the court in July 2008. 

The ruling will likely bring to a close one of the highest profile trials stemming from the series of wars in the 1990s that saw the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia and death of at least 100,000 Bosnians.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies